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Jalapeños are a delicious topping if you like to add a little heat to your meals. But are jalapeños safe for dogs? In short, no. Jalapeños are not safe for dogs.
Although jalapeño plants are not toxic to dogs, they can be bad for your dog’s digestive system and can cause stomach pain. Additionally, jalapeños do not contain health benefits significant enough to warrant feeding them to dogs. So, you can be selfish and keep all the spicy goodness for yourself! Keep reading to learn what happens if a dog eats a jalapeño.
In this guide:
- Are jalapeños bad for dogs?
- Why can’t dogs eat jalapeños?
- What happens if a dog eats a jalapeño?
- My dog ate a jalapeño! What should I do?
- Can a jalapeño kill a dog?
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Are jalapeños bad for dogs?
Yes. Neither jalapeños, chili peppers, nor other spicy foods are good for dogs. Feeding your dog jalapeños is likely to cause indigestion or upset stomach, among other symptoms (listed below). We know it’s hard to resist those puppy dog eyes at mealtime, but this is one human food that you should definitely keep to yourself.
Why can’t dogs eat jalapeños?
Based on current knowledge, no part of the jalapeño plant appears to be explicitly toxic to dogs. But that doesn’t mean they’re good for dogs to eat. The main problem is the amount of capsaicin in jalapeños, the chemical compound that gives hot peppers their characteristic spicy flavor.
Jalapeños score fairly low on the Scoville heat test compared to other hot peppers. They range from 2,500 to 8,000 capsaicin units, which isn’t much considering that the scale continues up into the millions. Other peppers, such as ghost peppers, are even worse for dogs.
But even this relatively low score is still too much for your dog to digest. Upon eating a jalapeño, they’ll feel significant discomfort in both their taste buds and the lining of their mouth. Then they’ll experience more pronounced digestive difficulties as the pepper passes through their digestive system.
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What happens if a dog eats a jalapeño?
Jalapeños—and spicy food in general—can bring about the symptoms you’d see with IBS in dogs:
- Indigestion: stomach upset, pain in the abdomen, heartburn
- Diarrhea: watery, loose stools that have little to no bulk
- Irritable bowels: could include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation
Feeding your dog jalapeños could also cause stomach ulcers or injure the lining of the digestive tract. And then it’s probable they’ll feel the burning sensation a second time as the chemical exits their bowels. Due to this uncomfortable feeling, you may find your dog acting strangely, such as scooting his bum on the ground.
Although I’d suggest keeping your dog on a diet of professionally prepared dog food, you could substitute a less spicy pepper, such as bell peppers or sweet peppers, in place of jalapeños. If you want to feed your dog a high-quality diet of fresh ingredients, check out our The Farmer’s Dog Food review.
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My dog ate a jalapeño! What should I do?
Don’t panic. Although your dog will likely experience some adverse symptoms, they’ll probably be okay. However, depending on how much jalapeño your dog ate, it may be a good idea to chat with a veterinarian. They’ll instruct you on what symptoms to look for and what you can feed your dog to help.
You can ask your vet about feeding your dog a food high in fat, such as whole cow milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese. Capsaicin is thought to be soluble in fat, so the milk will dissolve the capsaicin and ease your dog’s discomfort. This is similar to how soap dissolves oil and grease from your hands. Just remember that moderation is key, as your dog could face a host of other issues with too much dairy.
Another option is peanut butter. Most dogs love peanut butter, and since it’s high in fat, it could also help relieve the capsaicin’s effect on the digestive system.
Plain white rice, potatoes, bread, or other safe starches may help ease your dog’s discomfort. These foods do not dissolve capsaicin as dairy does, but they will help absorb the chemical.
If your dog is really struggling, another possible treatment is administering activated charcoal to absorb the capsaicin. Dr. Pitcairn suggests:
- Mix 5 heaping teaspoons of granular activated charcoal in 1 cup of water.
- Depending on the dog’s size, give ¼ to 1 cup by spoonfuls in the dog’s cheek pouch.
Can a jalapeño kill a dog?
It’s unlikely that your dog will die from eating part of or a whole jalapeño. Peppers are not toxic to canines unless they have an allergy to nightshade vegetables.
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However, your dog may experience uncomfortable, even painful negative effects because of the chemical compounds in jalapeños that produce spiciness. The more jalapeños they ate, the worse their reaction may be. The same goes for any type of chili pepper, habanero pepper, or other spicy dishes.
Although unlikely, a dog would be more likely to die from the symptoms of eating spicy food, such as diarrhea, especially if they already had other serious health issues.
If you have any concerns, reach out to a veterinarian for assistance.
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